Japanese police refer former champion Harumafuji to prosecutors

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Police on Monday referred former sumo grand champion Harumafuji to prosecutors on suspicion of bodily injury to a junior wrestler, Japanese media reported, the latest development in an incident that has tainted the image of the national sport.

Police in Tottori prefecture, southwest Japan, where the incident occurred in late October, recommended that Mongolian-born Harumafuji, 33, be charged, NHK public TV and Kyodo news agency reported.

A report by the Japan Sumo Association's crisis management committee found that Harumafuji, angered that Takanoiwa was checking his smart phone after being chastised for a bad attitude by fellow Mongolian "yokozuna" Hakuho, slapped and hit the younger wrestler with a remote control device.

Harumafuji told a news conference announcing his retirement that he felt it was his duty as a senior wrestler to correct his juniors when they were rude, but conceded that he had gone too far.

The incident has highlighted sumo's struggle to reform harsh conditions that can breed violence in its closed, hierarchical world, although some wrestlers say there have been improvements in the decade since a trainee was beaten to death.

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